4 August 2011 Last updated at 14:27 ET
Israel approves 900 East Jerusalem settlement homes
By Wyre Davies BBC News, Jerusalem
A partial view shows the Jewish settlement of Har Homa on the
outskirts of mostly Arab east Jerusalem, near the West Bank
biblical town of Bethlehem, on 2 December 2010 Har Homa is already
home to more than 9,000 people
The Israeli government has given final approval for more than 900
new homes in occupied East Jerusalem.
The move, to build houses for Jewish families in the settlement of
Har Homa, has been criticised by peace groups as cynical.
But the Israeli government says it will help address the country's
Har Homa is one of the largest and most controversial Jewish
settlements in East Jerusalem.
It is regarded, under international law, as occupied Palestinian
land, but Israel says it is part of its territory.
The Israeli interior ministry has now given final approval for 930
new homes in Har Homa, which is already home to more than 9,000
Interior Minister Eli Yishai said the project was important
because it would include small, affordable housing units.
But peace campaigners have criticised the announcement as a
cynical exploitation of Israel's housing shortage.
Hagit Ofran, from Peace Now, said the approval would make a
two-state solution - between Israel and the Palestinians - ever
The expansion of Har Homa, say campaigners, would effectively cut
off the Palestinian town of Bethlehem from other Arab areas in
Continued building in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank is
seen as one of the biggest issues preventing a resumption of peace
talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Previous announcements about building plans in Har Homa have been
criticised by the US, UK and many other foreign governments.